US in frenzy over Iran war fears
With memories of the Iraq War fresh in their mind, US politicians and commentators are warning that the Trump administration is taking the country precariously close to the precipice of another war in the Middle East.
International worries that the Trump administration is sliding toward war with Iran have flared up amid scepticism about claims by the White House that the Islamic Republic poses a growing threat to the US and its allies in the region.
A top British general in the US-led coalition against Islamic State expressed doubts about the threat posed by Iran, but the US military was quick to rebut the position in an extraordinary rebuke of an allied senior officer.
In a statement, the US Central Command insisted that US troops in Iraq and Syria were on a high level of alert due to the alleged Iranian threat.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has denied an explosive New York Times report this week that US officials are discussing a military plan to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter any attack or nuclear weapons acceleration by Iran.
But he then stirred the controversy further by saying: “Would I do that? Absolutely.”
“Hopefully we’re not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that,” he said overnight.
The Times reported Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated plan last week in a meeting of top national security aides that envisions sending as many as 120,000 American troops to the region if Iran attacks US forces or accelerates work on its nuclear weapons.
The updated plan does not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require far more troops, the report said.
Colin Kahl, a former National Security Adviser to the White House who previously oversaw Iran policy and planning at the Pentagon at the height of concerns over Iran’s nuclear progress, said, “No plausible contingency except invasion and regime change would require sending 120,000 US forces to the Middle East.”
The American media and Democratic Party are in a frenzy about the ramping up of hostilities.
“The United States Congress must do everything it can to prevent the Trump Administration’s attempts to put us on the brink of a catastrophic and unconstitutional war with Iran,” said Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders.
Meanwhile, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall is seeking support for a bill to “halt the Trump administration’s march to war with Iran” dubbed the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act.
“The US has a long history of provoking wars. Could Iran be next?” The New Yorker wondered this week.
While The Washington Post ran the sobering headline: “A conflict with Iran would not be like the Iraq War. It would be worse.”
Commentators and politicians alike are condemning any prospect of war.
Once again the drums of war are beating. Some are calling for “ground war” with Iran. This would be a massive mistake— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) May 14, 2019
Another ground war with US troops IS NOT the answer. President Trump rightfully ran on ending endless wars.
End the endless, senseless wars
Washington recently deployed an aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged, still-unspecified threats from Tehran.
The US has recently warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region.
Tensions rose another notch with reports earlier this week that four commercial vessels anchored off the United Arab Emirates had been damaged by sabotage.
A US military team was sent to the UAE to investigate, and one US official said the initial assessment is that each ship has a 5 to 10-foot (1.5m to 3m) hole in it, near or just below the water line.
The official, who was not authorised to publicly discuss details of the investigation, said the early interpretation is that the holes were caused by explosive charges.
Speaking to the Associated Press overnight, the official acknowledged seeing some photographs of the damage to the ships, but said those images have not been made public.
Some have criticised the report calling it irresponsible.
“This is a volatile moment in the Gulf. To publish a story blaming Iran for the damaged tankers, based on one anonymous ‘official’ who offers no hard evidence, is irresponsible,” the Middle East correspondent for The Economist Gregg Carlstrom wrote on Twitter.
According to reports, during a government meeting event overnight Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “there is not going to be any war” with the US, but said there will also be no renegotiation on the country’s nuclear activities.